[March 27, 2018] Many years ago I learned something many leaders discover only by accident. I learned those good leaders ask themselves if they can be better leaders – personally do more to succeed and provide better care for those who they are in charge. This “inward criticism” is an on-going look at ways to improve leadership performance.
There is a danger to this inward criticism. For leaders who are careless may find themselves self-talked into a downward spiral to depression and misery. The lose their hard-earned abilities to the negative side of asking themselves if they can do better. To them, unfortunately, the answer often comes back as “no” – I cannot do better.
For those with a strong will to be a better leader and full of the passion to lead others and make them better, success follows. When leaders ask themselves this question, they also invite others to provide thoughtful, constructive criticism. While difficult to accept the intense focus of others on our abilities, the end result can be positive, enabling personal growth.
The study of Winston Churchill, arguably the greatest leader of the Twentieth Century, it is revealed that he was in a constant personal struggle over how to convince others about the evil of Nazi Germany. In movies, we see him as steadfast, without a doubt in his cause, and a “rock” in the stream of chaos that had enveloped Europe in the lead up to World War II.
He did this with considerable self-doubt and that ate at him over those war years. Yet, that ultimately is the goal of a good leader; to make improvements in one’s self and continue to strive to greater leadership heights. That is the roadway to a better human condition and to one that Churchill pushed himself; the final goal for Churchill was the defeat of the Nazi military and the end to a cultural-ending struggle.
There is an important lesson for those looking to be a better leader. And the lesson is that a continual look inward to methods to be a better leader is the only way of being a better leader. As we all have learned, there are no shortcuts, hacks, or bypasses to this process and no other method but to look inward.